It’s been a particularly harsh winter for the Eastern United States, and many local governments have exhausted their stockpiles of salt used to melt ice on roads and sidewalks. Salt makes streets safer to navigate when conditions are treacherous, however there are big drawbacks when it comes to infrastructure and the environment. According to a report on Treehugger, salt adversely impacts wildlife, plants, water and soil when it inevitably finds its way into the groundwater, rivers and streams. Road salt can also contain chemicals like sodium ferrocyanide and ferric ferrocyanide, it’s corrosive, and it speeds up the deterioration of infrastructure – every dollar spent on salt costs an estimated four dollars in repairs to roads and bridges.
There are alternatives to salt that could protect the environment from toxic runoff and prevent premature deterioration of essential infrastructure. Some of these alternatives include reducing the speed limit during winter, mandating snow tires and investing in more robust public transportation systems to provide easy alternatives to driving.
If pouring salt on roads, bridges and walkways is a must, there are eco-friendly alternatives for melting snow and ice. Green de-icing materials include urea, alfalfa meal, sugar beet juice, sand, coffee grinds, cheese brine and garlic salt.
Lead image via John P. Sullivan